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Posted in: CPR Productions
Money in the Bank Needs a Tweak (CPR Productions)
By Mazza
Jul 6, 2014 - 3:03:00 PM

‘Sup, Lords of Pain? I know some of you are probably expecting the WrestleMania XV edition of ATTITUDE! but Maverick and myself are a little behind on that right now. We shall be back however with the latest installment on the regular day of Thursday this week as we kick off the second half of the series. Today however I have had the urge to write about something a little more current thanks to a conversation on Twitter with Bernard (shout out to the man!). So without further ado I bring you...






MONEY IN THE BANK NEEDS A TWEAK




I find it hard to believe, but the Money in the Bank concept is almost ten years old. With the IWC seemingly sick to the back teeth with John Cena as a world champion, it is worth noting that those two phenomena were born on the same night back at WrestleMania 21. It is interesting that in contrast to the man from Newbury, Massachusetts being able to use his infamous catchphrase, Money in the Bank is still pretty much universally loved. In fact an argument can be made that pretty much every version of the gimmick match has delivered in some way, shape or form aside from the one that finished with that “The Champ is Here” moment.

There are some people out there who have their problems with a lot of the MitB matches. They are often sorely lacking in psychology, logic and common sense but if you can put that aside for twenty minutes or so, you will usually be very entertained by the spotfest that ensues. In a similar way to the Royal Rumble match, MitB has become must-see encounter before the participants are even announced. Sure there are some editions that aren’t as good as the others but the gimmick itself is sound. People love a ladder spotfest and the issue I find with Money in the Bank isn’t with the match itself (most of the time!).

So what about the the timing of the match? The gimmick started out as a good midcard outing for a bunch of guys at WrestleMania. It made sense at the time and WWE have struggled to fill that void since 2010 where the match got its own PPV. Once again I will make a Rumble comparison. The gimmick became so loved that it made sense that it could headline an event of its own. The PPV has been a huge success in its five year run so far, with ladder matches often getting backed up with high stakes title bouts on the road to SummerSlam. Every year we seem to get rumours that the match will find its way back to the Mania card however. Again, I don’t think that placement is the issue with Money in the Bank. I feel that the PPV has taken over Survivor Series’ “big four” spot in the hearts of many and that it will become even more important with a unified title. It would work just as well at other times of the year but I definitely like it as its own branded special event.

So I don’t believe the issue with Money in the Bank is with the match itself or when it takes place. Aside from this year’s one off battle for the vacant title, the prize for winning has been the same since the get-go. Sure we’ve had slight variations due different formats of shows and multiple world titles, but it is still a battle for a world title shot. It could be argued that the gimmick itself is a big enough selling point and that the winner could get by on just the bragging rights. It would be tough to take the title shot away from the match however. A shot at being world champion is a perfect prize for midcarders putting it all on the line in an extremely dangerous match. While I am all for the briefcase containing a world title match, what I believe needs changing is just how that should happen. It’s the “anytime, anywhere” element of a cash-in which has become just as stale over the years as a face John Cena as champion.

We’ve all seen the immediate effect of winning the briefcase in the last few years. It’s as if it’s the green light for creative to stop caring. It’s not surprising to see a briefcase holder go on a losing streak, wrestling in nothing feuds and falling down the card. There seems to be a feeling that what happens when they win the briefcase will be erased by a successful cash-in. Whilst I understand the logic in a way, I absolutely hate it. The problem is that it affects the holder’s credibility. Rather than building them up towards being ready for the title, they are left to flounder and the result is that when they cash-in, they don’t look like championship material. This is further compounded by the manner of 99% of the cash-ins so far (well technically 86% but who’s counting). The whole ultimate opportunist nature of things worked perfectly for Edge. Hell, it might have worked perfectly for whoever the first person was, but we’ve seen the “surprise cash-in” twelve times now with Seth Rollins shaping up to add to that figure. The positive side is that it is a guaranteed huge pop and a video package moment. But the negatives far outweigh that positive for me.

Primarily it gives a fluke feeling to the victory. They end up holding a title that feels like it rightly belongs to the man they cashed in on. They often go into the rematch looking like the underdog and even if they get by that, it always seems like a matter of time before they drop the belt. Very few have had a particularly successful title run and those that do often pay for it down the line (Hi Miz!). Most need to be totally rebuilt to go back up and get a credible world title again down the line (think Punk/Bryan) whereas others can’t even manage that (see Swagger/Ziggler). Hell, most people look at Edge as the posterboy for the success of the concept but even that has to be called into question. Sure the initial cash-in and live sex celebration were cool and all but let’s not forget that John Cena quickly took back what was his. Money in the Bank may have been the vehicle that got Edge his first world title run but I believe it was the subsequent feud and partnership with Mick Foley that gave him the tools to remain in the main event scene for the rest of his career. It was a platform which meant he could wrestle John Cena on a level playing field just six months after looking out of his league.

Of course there are some other annoying side effects of Money in the Bank too. There’s the constant predictions at every damn PPV that there will be a cash-in and the following “I told you so” of people that got it right (despite the fact they got it wrong at the previous four events!). Predicting aside it puts a distraction on a lot of title matches whilst the briefcase is still in play. The teased cash-in is also in danger of becoming played out. It might get a bit of a pass this year seeing as it fits well into the Ambrose-Rollins dynamic but there will come a point that you see it too often and it will lose effect. That said very little in pro-wrestling is perfect so it is probably best I look at the ways WWE could tweak Money in the Bank. First of all you could call it Bunny in the Manc and have Adam Rose’s posse abduct Wade Barrett, leading to some segments that are not very PG. Ok, that probably won’t work. Let’s look at something else.

My first suggestion would be to put in a notice period on cashing in. This isn’t a new concept for Money in the Bank winners. In fact it’s what has happened in 14% of cash-ins that weren’t a surprise. I’d argue that Rob Van Dam’s cash-in of the second briefcase worked better than most of the surprise ones. It’s not like he didn’t profit from the situation either. He just used it to give him home field advantage during the second edition of ECW’s One Night Stand. The result was an excellent competitive match and although there were questionable circumstances in his victory, he looked like a legitimate champion. At least he did until he got arrested with drugs on him which goes down as probably the biggest bonehead move in WWE history. John Cena also gave notice to CM Punk in what was a cash-in built around his Hustle Loyalty Respect mantra.

If you put a notice period on cashing in, then it would remove the fluke element. The good thing about this is that the holder won’t be forced into the whole ultimate opportunist routine. For argument’s sake, let’s say the notice period is one week. This still leaves the chance for a tactical cash in on an injured opponent if it feeds into the character (or a desired change in character) of the holder. It’s a lot less clear cut as a simple “kicking the man whilst he is down”. It leaves the opportunity for the holder to cash in at a home PPV like RVD and opens things up to more face cash-ins.

The tweak that Bernard put forward was to allow the champion to accept or decline a cash-in attempt. Obviously you’d need to put a cap in but that is certainly workable. Perhaps you can say that the champ can only turn down three attempts with the challenger having to wait a week following a decline. What I like about this is that it puts some focus on the character of the champion. Obviously someone like Cena would not be able to say no without putting his whole belief system up for question. On the flip side, you could have a cowardly heel champion who is trying to weasel his way out of the putting his strap up. You could even have him going as far as trying to manipulate the face holder to cash in when it suited him. It essentially lends itself to any kind of challenger and champion. The potential for dynamics and use of tactics in this situation is huge.

Another possible tweak would be to remove the cashing in altogether. What if winning Money in the Bank gave you a one-on-one title match at a certain PPV in a way similar to the Rumble and Mania. Whilst SummerSlam immediately springs to mind as the event to get the shot, I think a bit later in the year would be better. Survivor Series might the best time. This gives the holder time to build momentum towards their shot in addition to keeping them away from the title scene during whatever the big summer feud is. You could also move the tweak your schedule to find a best fit if needed. Of course the bad side of this is flexibility. It would mean the WWE would have to build their feuds around this Survivor Series (or whatever PPV they choose) island and that may not always be ideal. Likewise you’d also need to book a gap in the holder’s schedule for the same time.

One way around that would be that the briefcase would guarantee the holder a one-on-one PPV title shot at any point within the year. This would get around the schedule issue but it would need a bit of work from an authority figure. That could be a good thing. In the current climate, you could have someone like the Cerebral Assassin plotting with the Architect for the best time to pull the trigger and remove the belt from Cena. In contrast, if Ambrose won it, you could have Triple H finding the time where a challenge would most likely fail, or pitting two of his enemies against each other. Having a heel holder trying to manipulate a face or neutral GM to work in their favour could also be gold. You could even go a step further and not just limit this to PPVs.

The fact is there are plenty of ways to put a fresh twist on Money in the Bank. It’s a concept that I see being a successful part of the WWE landscape for a long time yet but I really do believe that it can do with a little bit of a change as it moves into its second decade. I’d love to hear what you all think. Are you happy just the way things are? Do you like any of the options put forward? Do you have your own idea to freshen things up? Feel free to use the comments section below or hit me up on social media.



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